When I first saw AccountZilla, I thought it’s just some kind of form automation tool that almost all the browsers already support. Why would anyone need it? Then I saw the product description says it can also automatically retrieve information, which sounds a little bit more interesting, so I decided to give it a try and I would say it’s really something different!
The installation was smooth and I didn’t have any trouble there. Just kept clicking on “next” button down the flow, and launched it. The main UI looks clean, and the first thing I noticed is the sample “site” built-in, and I found it helpful to make me understand how the AccountZilla software works. Clicking on the “Edit” icon besides that sample site opens a dialog called “Website Recorder”, and this is some really cool stuff you’d never see anywhere else!
On the top left is an address bar and below it is a browser window that shows the webpage about the sample site. You will see shows a login page with two login text boxes, a dropdown box and a button. Quickly enough, the text boxes will be filled, and the drop down box is selected and the login page is gone. What is going on? It’s the “Website Recorder” playing the pre-rerecorded “steps”.
On the right is the “recorder” control that can work in “record”, “play” and “stop” mode, just like any normal recorder — it even has those three buttons on the top. Below the buttons is a list of “steps” recorded for the sample website. If you look closely, you can see a browsing action to an URL, two text actions about filling in text in the login text boxes, a dropdown box action, and a clicking action on a button. That looks to me quite intuitive. After those actions, there are two more “steps” for capturing the information that’s captured and shown on the main UI. If you select any of those in the list, the corresponding area on the webpage in the browser window will be highlighted which is cool. The you can use the “play” button to play the list of steps like playing a music that was pre-recorded. The only difference is here what’s being played is the actions a user did in the web browser from the very beginning – browsing to a website, to the very end – get the information.
I then closed out of the sample site and start to add my own “site”. I first added my bank account and it was very easy. After clicking on “Add a new site” button, I just used the “Website Recorder” like a normal browser: typed in the homepage URL of my bank account, typed in my user name and password, and clicked on “login” button. All the actions were recorded correctly. After I saw my account summary, I dragged the my checking account balance number and dropped it in the step list on the right. Then I typed in the description “My checking account balance” and clicked on “Save” button. That’s it. My checking account was added to the main UI and I can either let it refresh every 1 hour (I didn’t change the refresh interval but it can be changed.) or manually refresh it.
I continued to add all of my other online accounts to AccountZilla. Most of them were as easy as my checking account, but some took me extra steps to figure out. For example, for Discover card, it asked me for the security question. After filling in the answer, the actions for the answer and the button click were also recorded, and that caused some issue when it tried to play because those actions were only required the first time. So I had to delete those two actions from the list by clicking “delete steps” button and save the change. For my American express account, somehow the website remembers the login state, and I had to tell AccountZilla to click on “logout” link and re-browse to the login page. The trick is, that “logout” link may not be there, so I had to make the action “not mandatory” so that it gets “played” only if the link is there. One of my other accounts requires a user to type in the letter in an image (I think it’s called Captcha), and apparently AccountZilla can’t handle that. Fortunately for me that’s about the only one account I can’t use AccountZilla for.
AccountZilla seems to keep everything, the program file and the account information, under user’s application data folder on a user’s computer. The account information is encrypted by default, but a user can create his/her own password to protect it. Without the password AccountZilla refuses to work.
Overall, I’m very pleased with this piece of software. I have many online accounts and I tend to logon to see all of them quite frequently. The problem is I can never remember all of my passwords (Yes they’re different and I don’t want to use one single password for all of them for security reasons.), and I used to use Chrome to remember my passwords, but I still had to open Chrome and browse to the URLs and click buttons and links. With AccountZilla, I setup all of my accounts once, and I can see all of my accounts by simply double clicking the AccountZilla program icon. I also like it because it puts all the numbers from my different account together, which makes my life much easier.
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